The Purdue Boilermakers have just come off a very impressive conference win against the Ohio State Buckeyes. This improves their winning streak to four, three of those being against ranked opponents. While the Boilermakers command a not so impressive 15-8 ranking, they have the second best record in the Big Ten at 7-3.
Purdue continues to be haunted by two out of conference losses against lesser basketball programs, North Florida and Gardner-Webb. When looking at Purdue’s entire body of work, those two games are ones that really stick out and bring doubt to the abilities of a team that is defying all odds. Fans have seen the team grow up in front of their eyes and it is clear that this is not the same team that started the season off.
7-foot center, A.J. Hammons has been the difference maker through the four-win streak and has been averaging 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks throughout the stretch. A.J. is finally reaching, if not exceeding the sky-high expectations that fans have been waiting for him to meet since his recruitment.
The most impressive part of Purdue’s game has been their defense, they are locking down offensively driven teams and seem more ‘hungry’ than their opponents. Their ability to contest shots has been critical to limiting the likes of IU and Ohio State who have built up reputations of being deadly behind the arc. The interior defense controlled by A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas made it their case not to allow any easy baskets. They have been a spark for the Boilermakers at times when they have most needed it.
These victories have been the turning point of the season and they came at just the right time while Purdue makes its push to make the tournament. Purdue has proven that they can play with anyone and they just seem to be getting better and better. If three ranked-victories and a trap-ranked victory in two weeks with a second best Big Ten play rating isn’t enough to convince voters then I don’t know what is.